Born in Communist Romania, Mona Nicoara dedicated her early years to becoming a poet in a small, largely underground community of young writers who did not abide by the creative conventions of the Ceausescu era. After the 1989 Revolution she began mixing creative work with human rights activism for groups like the Romanian Helsinki Committee, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, and continued these parallel tracks after moving to New York at Columbia University in 1995.
She started working in film in 1997 as an Associate Producer for CHILDREN UNDERGROUND (2001), which received the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary. Her directorial debut, OUR SCHOOL (2011), premiered in the US at the Tribeca Film Festival, went on to over 60 festivals worldwide, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best US Feature at SilverDocs, and was nominated for Best Eastern European Documentary at the Silver Eye Awards and for Best Romanian Documentary at the Gopo Awards.
Since 2014, she has been programming the One World Romania and fARAD film festivals, and since 2017 has been teaching film at NYU Tisch and Rutgers University.
Her film THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND ME (2018), co-directed by Dana Bunescu, was selected at Transilvania IFF in 2019.